By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) They’re five years, four Cy Young Awards and 316 wins apart, but might Mike and Greg Maddux – who have never before worn the same baseball uniform at the same time – finally come together on the North Side of Chicago next season?
It’s certainly possible if 50-year-old Mike, the current Texas Rangers pitching coach who’s set to interview for the Cubs managerial job next week, is hired by the organization that first made the family name a household one.
Thanks, of course, to his kid brother.
In fact, such a turn of events could even be probable if Greg, 45, allows his older brother to influence him the way he did three decades ago at their family home in Las Vegas.
After all, if not for Mike’s brotherly prodding, Greg might have ended up as a failed high school point guard instead of a future Hall of Fame pitcher.
In the biography, “On the Mound with Greg Maddux,” readers learn that as a youth in Vegas, Greg was your average teen, flipping burgers at Wendy’s and loving baseball and basketball on equal terms. However, when Greg began his freshman year at Valley High School, Mike – then a pitcher at the University of Texas at El Paso – sat his bro down and gave him some sage advice.
“If I were you,” Mike explained, offering a tip that would ensure future nightmares for countless Major Leaguers. “I’d forget basketball. Your future is in baseball, and you should concentrate on that.”
Greg did, and the rest is history – a remarkable history in which he became just one of 10 MLB pitchers ever to record 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts and will surely become enshrined in Cooperstown as soon as he becomes eligible in 2014.
Mike Maddux, for his part, went on to spend 15 of his own years in the bigs, establishing himself as a reliable reliever for 10 different teams, with a career record of 39-37 and ERA of 4.05. Solid numbers, but a far cry behind Greg’s career marks of 355-227 and 3.16.
Despite the difference in their stats, though, both the cerebral Greg – who boasts perhaps the two most dissimilar nicknames in sports in “Mad Dog” and “The Professor” – and Mike established themselves as two of the game’s finest minds during their playing careers.
And since retiring, Mike has since gone on to do the same as a pitching coach for the Brewers and the Rangers, most recently helping Texas find pitching success for a franchise that’s long been known only for its bats. Greg, meanwhile, recently completed his third season in the Cubs’ front office serving as a special assistant to former general manager Jim Hendry.
Last November, when Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild bolted Wrigleyville for the Bronx, fans and media speculated that Greg might replace him in the dugout. Hendry, however, said at the time that Maddux had no interest in assuming that role.
“He certainly can do this job when he’s ready to,” Hendry said about Greg and the job of pitching coach. “But his situation hasn’t changed. He will be in a more expanded role next year, but had no interest in (coaching) now.”
With Hendry’s dismissal and the arrival of Theo Epstein & Co. at Clark & Addison, it’s been unclear whether Greg will return to the Cubs in 2012. It’s been said that Greg is dealing with family health issues, and it’s possible that he may still have no interest in coaching.
However, if Mike is hired to manage the Cubs another family issue may make Greg change his mind: The idea of finally spending a baseball season alongside his brother.
Who knows, Mike might even take a seat inside Greg’s mansion in Vegas and explain to his brother that he now thinks his future is in coaching.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.